The Washington Post published an editorial this morning on the Congressional Democrats’ legislative proposals designed to chill corporate speech and protect their incumbents in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. While the Post supports the disclosure provisions contained in the legislative framework released by the Democrats, it approaches with skepticism the provisions addressing the federal government contractor and foreign national issues. The editorial states:
The proposal also attempts to curtail political involvement by particularly troublesome classes of corporations: foreign-owned companies and government contractors. This part gives us more pause. The Supreme Court has spoken, however wrongly; the proper legislative response is to come up with a well-tailored solution, not the one that achieves the biggest end-run around what the court has said is the constitutionally required room for free speech.
The legislative framework released by the Congressional Democrats is ill conceived. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision was a forceful pronouncement of free speech principles signaling that the Court will not tolerate legislation designed to chill political speech.
Congressional Democrats appear to be making a simple political calculation. If they pass legislation that will ultimately be struck down by the Supreme Court on constitutional grounds, the law will remain on the books while the litigation works its way through the federal court system and chill political speech for the 2010 congressional election. This means Congressional Democrats are willing to suppress First Amendment rights during the 2010 election season – the time period when the First Amendment has its most urgent application – for partisan political reasons.